People often ask me what yoga for stress is and I tell them that it’s yoga, because yoga is fundamentally a tool for transformation of the mind.
Everything we do in yoga is for this purpose.
When we practise Hatha yoga, we are always focused on the body, on the breath; there is often a drishti (visual) or some other mental focus. It is always an inward dialogue, probing, provoking and challenging but ultimately nurturing and liberating as this inward dialogue leads to a greater understanding and awareness of all the levels of our being.
Without awareness there can be no change.
When practising Hatha yoga, there should at all times be a feeling of steadiness and ease in not only the physical body but also with the breath and with the mind.
After practising yoga, there should be a feeling of lightness in the body and a sense brightness of the mind; there should never be any physical pain or mental discomfort.
We cannot have a steady breath without a steady body and so we practise asana. We cannot have a steady mind unless we have a steady breath, so we refine the breath with pranayama.
When the breath is steady so is the mind and so is the yogi!
In the Yoga tradition, disturbances at the level of the mind are reflected in the pranic (energetic or vital) body. These disturbances then emerge as weakness in the physical body which lead to dis-ease.
In my classes, we look at how yogic practices affect the mind and the nervous system, and how the inhale links to the sympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system and the exhale to the parasympathetic. We look at the prana vayus, the chakra system and, along with breath-led asana, we practice pranayama, nidra, restorative yoga and we meditate.
Did you know that yoga nidra has been shown to increase dopamine (a neurotransmitter linked with addiction) by up to 65%?*
Or that Yoga can increase mental capacity in older adults?**
I like to teach practices in easily digestible bite size chunks so that people can confidently take them away and practise them at home. My goal as a teacher is to give my students the knowledge to be able to practise at home on their own, for then they are really able to make positive and long lasting change to their lives.
James has been teaching yoga for over 14 years. He has taught extensively in the addiction and mental health field and currently teaches a restorative yoga class for mental health for the NHS and works as a yoga therapist for a leading substance recovery clinic based in Switzerland. James has a massage and yoga therapy clinic Wednesday evenings 5-9pm at triyoga Camden and his weekly yoga for stress class is also at triyoga Camden every Wednesday 2.15-3.30pm.